The only alleged hijacker nabbed for the death of nine-year-old Sadia Sukhraj, cut a beaten and meek figure in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.
Sibonelo Mkhize had an injury to his right eye when he appeared in the dock. He claimed police had beaten him and that this resulted in a leg injury.
Mkhize has been provisionally charged with two counts of murder, one of kidnapping and one of theft.
Standing before Magistrate Mahomed Motala, the accused said he was made to sleep on the floors of the Durban Central police station’s holding cells. This prompted people in the public gallery to laugh loudly.
Prosecutor Sureka Marimuthoo disputed his allegations and said Mkhize’s injuries were caused by a public beating.
“I have spoken to the investigating officer and he says that the injuries were sustained during his arrest. A mob is said to have attacked him.”
Motala ruled that Mkhize would spend the night in Westville Prison while his address, which he said was that of his aunt, was verified.
“The matter will be rolled over until tomorrow (Thursday) for address verification,” Motala said.
On Tuesday, thousands of mourners paid their respects to Sukhraj at the Christian Revival Centre (CRC).
At the burial ceremony, rain pelted down as family members sang church songs and stayed close together, constantly fighting tears.
Her father, well-known Pastor Shailendra Sukhraj, was in the car with her on Monday when the attempted hijacking happened, and it is alleged that he shot at the suspects as they drove off with his daughter.
The hijackers crashed into a truck shortly after. One assailant was arrested, another killed and the third is still on the run.
The community, outraged at the death of the young girl, marched to the Chatsworth police station on Monday evening. At least 20 people were arrested following protests.
Off the 20, police said on Wednesday that 18 were released on R1 000 bail each and one other on bail of R500.
One suspect was released and all 19 remaining accused were expected to return to court on July 4.